Extension and building the new air terminal

The re-development of the airport between 1926-1928 saw the construction of a special building to incorporate all airport terminal functions together, including the workings of Air Traffic Control. Work was completed in 1928 when the new airport terminal was opened to the public on 2nd May and became fully operational. This was the first modern airport terminal to integrate all airport functions in one preplanned structure. Key to its success was the understanding of how people and goods moved through the building – both departures and arrivals.

The new terminal building was part of the redevelopment of the London Croydon Airport as enacted by the Act of Parliament- the Croydon Aerodrome Extension Act 1925.The redevelopment saw the site experience a tenfold increase in size and the new buildings themselves covered thirty four acres. When opened in 1928 it was the world’s biggest airport.

The terminal building was known as the Administration Building and was re-located alongside the Purley Way (one of the UK’s first road by-passes)built in 1925 to improve rapid distribution of goods and traffic arriving by air. The building was designed by unknown architects of the Air Ministry- Department of Buildings and Works and constructed by Wilson Lovatt and Son Ltd. at a cost of £267,000. It was constructed using a steel frame allowing for easy extension for future airport expansion and walled with 50,000 concrete blocks. The concrete blocks were finished in a special aggregate mix to give the appearance of Portland Stone.

Central to the Administration Building was the Check-in area known as the Booking Hall, the central area for administration and passenger processing functions, enveloped by the two cargo wings. An innovative design that is now a standard airport design, it featured six check-in desks and administration facilities for the international airlines. The Booking Hall featured a large two storey atrium surrounded by a first floor balustrade with geometric patterned railings. Atop the atrium sits a magnificent steel framed glass dome, flooding the area with light. The Booking Hall was the first passenger check-in area designed and constructed with designated independent check-in facilities for international airlines.

The Booking Hall led through to Immigration, Security and Customs checks before exiting through the world’s first Departure gate to the south side of the Control Tower. The Arrivals gate was on the north side of the Control Tower.

The building featured a high speed pneumatic vacuum tube communication system connecting the Air Traffic Controllers in the Control Tower to the Meteorological Office and Commandant’s Office.